Mac Keyboard Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It

Andy Betts Updated 06-12-2019

Apple makes great keyboards: they work well, look really nice, and are designed to work perfectly with your Mac. But every once in a while, something goes wrong.


Maybe you plug your keyboard in and nothing happens. Perhaps your computer won’t pick up the Bluetooth signal from the board. Or maybe pressing the keys doesn’t do anything. Here’s what to do when your Apple keyboard is not working.

If Your Magic or Wireless Keyboard Is Not Working

We’ll start with wireless keyboards, as there are a few more issues these can run into compared to their wired counterparts. No matter what’s happening with your keyboard, try these steps first:

1. Make Sure Bluetooth Is Enabled and Working

Don’t overlook the most obvious solutions when trying to fix problems. First, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and make sure that you’ve got Bluetooth turned on.

The System Preferences panel will tell you if devices are connected, if they’re low on battery, or if there are any other errors.

If the preferences panel or your menu bar show a Bluetooth icon with a jagged line through it (see the image below), that means Bluetooth is offline. Restart your Mac and see if that helps. If not, unplug all USB devices and restart again.


bluetooth icons mac

See our guide to fixing Bluetooth on your Mac 7 Fixes When Bluetooth Is Not Available on Your Mac Is Bluetooth not available on your Mac? Here's how to troubleshoot Mac Bluetooth problems and get your devices working again. Read More if this still doesn’t resolve the issue.

2. Make Sure Your Keyboard Is On

If your Wireless or Magic Keyboard is not connecting, you should first check that it’s actually turned on:

  • On the latest Magic Keyboards, slide the switch on the back edge of the device so that the green color becomes visible.
  • For older Apple Wireless Keyboards, press the Power button on the right edge and you should see the green LED light up on the top.

After your device is on, go back to the Bluetooth preferences panel and see if it’s connected. If your keyboard is searching for your computer but not connecting, right-click on your keyboard in the list of devices and select Connect (if your device isn’t listed, skip ahead to step five below).


3. Check the Battery Level of Your Keyboard

If the batteries on your keyboard are getting low, you may have some performance problems. Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and you can see a small battery indicator below the listed—and connected—keyboard.

apple keyboard battery level

You can also see the battery level of any of your connected devices by clicking on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and hovering over the device you’re interested in. If the battery is low, you should replace it.

4. Make Sure Mouse Keys and Slow Keys Are Turned Off

Some macOS accessibility features can interfere with normal keyboard operation. To check this, go to System Preferences > Accessibility and select Mouse & Trackpad from the menu on the left.


Here, make sure that Enable Mouse Keys is unchecked. This option allows you to control the mouse using keyboard keys, resulting in a number of keys possibly not working.

disable mouse keys mac

Next, click on Keyboard in the left sidebar and make sure that Enable Slow Keys in unchecked. This requires you to hold keys for longer to register as a press.

disable slow keys mac


5. Re-Pair Your Keyboard With Your Computer

In the Bluetooth preferences panel, make sure that Bluetooth is enabled. Mouse over your keyboard in the list of devices, and click on the X at the right side of the entry.

re-pair keyboard mac

A warning will appear, telling you that you may need to re-pair your device next time you use it. Click Remove.

Now turn off your keyboard and turn it back on again. The indicator light should start blinking. Open the Keyboard options in System Preferences and click on Set up Bluetooth keyboard. Follow the instructions to pair your keyboard.

pair bluetooth keyboard mac

If Your Mac USB Keyboard Is Not Working

If your Mac Mini or iMac keyboard is not working, and it’s connected via USB, take the following steps to diagnose and solve the problem.

1. Try a Different USB Port

Unplug your keyboard from the current USB port and try another one. If it works, you can try it in the original port again.

If it only works in one USB port, you may need to fix your computer’s USB ports USB Ports Not Working? Here's How to Diagnose and Fix It USB ports not working? This article explains how to quickly identify the problem and fix it as fast as possible. Read More .

2. Check the System Report

From the Apple menu (found at the top-left of the screen), click About This Mac. Then click the System Report button. Once the system report window has opened, click on USB in the Hardware section of the left sidebar.

From here, you can see what your computer detects from your USB ports.

mac system report

If your computer has detected the keyboard, you’ll see Apple Keyboard listed under one of the USB ports. If it’s not listed, try restarting your computer and resetting the SMC and PRAM How to Do an SMC and PRAM/NVRAM Reset on Your Mac A reset of the SMC and PRAM/NVRAM can help any Mac, including MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, run smoothly again. Read More .

3. Turn Bluetooth Off

Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and make sure that Bluetooth is off. If this solves the problem, it’s possible that your computer is recognizing a Bluetooth keyboard and prioritizing it over your USB keyboard.

If you need to keep Bluetooth on, you can remove the keyboard from the list by clicking on the X on the right side of the entry in your System Preferences > Bluetooth device list to remove it.

4. Make Sure Mouse Keys and Slow Keys Are Turned Off

The same accessibility features we mentioned earlier can affect wired keyboards too. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility and select Mouse & Trackpad from the menu on the left. Make sure that Enable Mouse Keys is unchecked.

disable mouse keys mac

Click on Keyboard in the left sidebar and make sure that Enable Slow Keys is unchecked too.

disable slow keys mac

5. Connect Your Keyboard Through an Extension Cord or USB Hub

Apple’s USB keyboards come with a USB extension cord that increases the reach of the included USB cable. Try plugging your keyboard into one end of this cord and the other into your computer. If you don’t have a USB extension cord, you can also use a USB hub.

No one seems to know why this is so effective, but it often works!

Keyboard Still Not Working? Know When to Admit Defeat

As with any troubleshooting attempt, it’s good to know when to admit defeat. If you try the solutions above and none of them work, it might be time to consult staff at your local Apple store (particularly if the device is under warranty).

You can also try searching for your specific problem online to find others who have solved that issue. If your Macbook keyboard isn’t working, for example, refer to our troubleshooting guide for MacBook Butterfly keyboards. You might also want to consider a solid alternative to the Mac keyboard The 9 Best Alternatives to Apple's Official Magic Keyboard Looking to buy a new keyboard for your Mac? Apple's Magic Keyboard isn't the best. Here are some better Mac keyboard options. Read More .

Related topics: Bluetooth, Hardware Tips, Keyboard, Mac Tips, Troubleshooting.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Robin
    April 5, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    "If it only works in one USB port, you may need to fix your computer’s USB ports." - Links to article which explains how to do this for PCs, but does not mention Macs at all. >.<

  2. Sarah
    December 20, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    I can confirm that step #5 for the wired keyboard (using the extender) does work.

  3. Fred
    December 10, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    THANK YOU! I have two plugged-in Apple keyboards and had issues on two different computers and this little tip... "Apple’s USB keyboards come with a USB extension cord that increases the reach of the included USB cord. Try plugging your keyboard into one end of this cord and the other into your computer". That did it!

  4. andy dubitsky
    April 7, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    thank you thank you thank you

  5. Gary
    December 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    This series of steps worked. Thx!

  6. Robin
    November 27, 2017 at 11:07 am

    The trick with the extension cord worked! Thanks!

  7. mell
    November 4, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    followed instructions - wrks fr a time and gives up like nw

  8. gayle
    September 27, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you ! Simple and easy instructions to repair my wireless mac keypad to the computer.

  9. Vivian
    September 9, 2017 at 2:29 am

    Thank you for the help
    I was following your instructions because my keyboard ran out of battery and my 15 year old replaced them and after that it stoped working
    Other keys worked like esc, brightness but I could not type so in my frustration I started to research and came up with this page and
    Once I restarted the computer I realized I have it password protected and started to panic thinking I wasn't going to be able to even log in
    But apparently it just needed to be rebutted by restarting the computer and now my problem is solved
    But it wouldn't have for a while if I had not read your article



  10. Sara
    September 7, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    The extension lead did it! Thanks a lot! :-)

  11. Rick
    September 6, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Some of the keys on my Apple Magic wireless keyboard were not working. I called an Apple tech and he told me that my keyboard was most likely fried. I bought another one and the same thing was happening. I looked for an answer and found it in the above article. I followed the instructions and wouldn't you know it, problem fixed. Thanks!

  12. Jennifer
    August 24, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    WOW... it worked! I thought for sure I would have to replace the wireless Apple keyboard for my eight year old iMac. Thanks!

  13. John
    July 16, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    The keys on the middle row of my keyboard suddenly stopped responding to keystrokes.
    Could I have burned out a circuit by recharging my iPhone via the keyboard's spare USB port?

  14. Don Hauck
    June 29, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    I was having the same problem. It start a year or so after I got a different keyboard. Then I went back to the BT apple keyboard, same thing. Unchecking the mouse box in step four did the trick. I never had it check, so I don't know if an update changed or not, but now it all working, Thank You

  15. Shari Holloway
    January 4, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    I tried all of the above recommendations on my iMac and finally got my keyboard to work by plugging it into the USB hub. Fortunately I had an old Apple Pro keyboard that still works, so I was able to troubleshoot with it. Still can't get the newer USB keyboard to work with my MacBook Air though...

    • Dann Albright
      January 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      That's strange; have you tried the newer USB keyboard on another computer?

  16. Erik Boisen
    January 1, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Can't do any of your suggestions if I can't log on because the keyboard isn't working. How do you not address this?

    • Dann Albright
      January 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      If they keyboard isn't working, I'd recommend taking it to a Genius Bar or trying another keyboard to see if it's your computer.

  17. Hamdy
    August 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Updated Mac to macOS Sierra Beta version and the Wireless keyboard is acting funny, Delete key ", " and all arrow keys but the up one are all not functioning, please let me know if you have experience with the new Beta version

    • Dann Albright
      August 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I don't have the OS beta yet, so I don't have any experience with it. It wouldn't surprise me if the beta was having issues with bluetooth things, though.

  18. abbie
    August 15, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Hi, my wireless keyboard is connected but when I go to 'set up bluetooth keyboard...' my keyboard can't be found. Also none of the keys are working. Help please D:

    • Dann Albright
      August 16, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Have you tried it on another computer?

      • abbie
        August 21, 2016 at 2:10 am

        I haven't tried it on another computer but I have tried it on my phone. It detects the keyboard but I can't connect it since the keys aren't responding

        • Dann Albright
          August 21, 2016 at 4:07 pm

          Very strange; could be a problem with the keyboard itself. You might want to take it into a Genius Bar and see if they can help you out.

        • abbie
          August 22, 2016 at 5:07 am

          It might be because of the batterries that were stuck there before due to corrosion; those were a pain to get out and I had to smack the keyboard a couple of times for it to budge. It was working fine before that. I'll check out your suggestion. Thank you.

        • Dann Albright
          August 31, 2016 at 6:36 pm

          Yeah, that definitely sounds like it could cause some problems. :-)

    • Leslie
      December 22, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Only some of my keys work.The space bar doesn't work.I press o and p comes up automatically

      • Dann Albright
        December 28, 2016 at 7:33 pm

        How old is it? That sounds like it might need replacing.

  19. Michael Bushnell
    August 14, 2016 at 1:44 am

    MY WIFE'S Mac Air has been scrolling slowly, while attempting to get the scroll speed adjusted she somehow managed to get the keys on the keyboard to stop working. I took it to a tech friend of mine who got the keys to work using the Control + Option + P + R. This morning my wife was impatient with the scroll bar problem again and got the keyboard to stop working again. We again tried the above method and the keys barely work, you have to press very hard for any response. This has not been a problem until yesterday with my wife's attempt to speed up the scroll speed so I am fairly certain this is operator caused, not the Mac's

    • Dann Albright
      August 16, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      That's pretty weird. Have you tried resetting the PRAM again? I'd recommend that. Also, the fact that you have to press hard on the keys is really weird . . . that doesn't seem like it should be a software issue. Have you plugged the keyboard into another computer to see how it behaves there?

  20. karen
    July 3, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I solved my problem by going to keyboard in system preferences and unchecking the boxes for special function..this way i was once again able to adjust the volume, e.g.

    • Dann Albright
      July 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks for sharing that solution; I hadn't hear of that one before! Definitely a good one to keep in mind.

    • Jamie
      July 13, 2016 at 2:25 am

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you! I just tried this and it worked... I went to System Preferences > Keyboard > and TICKED the check box that said 'Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys'. I then plugged the USB keyboard in and it worked!

      I decided to UNTICK the same checkbox and the keyboard still works for now.

      Very weird indeed!


      • Dann Albright
        July 13, 2016 at 8:18 pm

        Glad to hear that this is working for multiple people!

  21. fadel ramadan jaber alshoubaki
    May 8, 2016 at 7:10 am

    the numbers 1-9 not work, zero number is work
    Barbary full, WiFi on

    even i totally remover it from the System Preferences, trying to make new configuration it as new , but its asking to enter pair NUMBERS, the numbers not work at all

    even i format the system totally to start from zero, same thing, i try anther USB keyboard and its work

    i have latest os system, battery full, WiFi is on

    im not export at mac.

    please your help

    • Ulich Maasmeier
      May 9, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Settings > Accessibility > Mouse & Trackpad:

      READ the first sentence.

  22. Anne
    March 26, 2016 at 10:27 am

    my keyboard has been acting really weird. some keys have too be pressed long and hard to work or not work at all..... :-( plase HELP! my shift and brightness buttons don't wok, i have died all troubleshooting. sadly apple support never got back to me regarding m issues. It took me a minute just to type the :-(

    • Dann Albright
      March 29, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      I'd definitely bring it into the Genius Bar and see what they say. Or buy yourself a cheap USB keyboard; that should solve the problem, too.

  23. Anonymous
    August 28, 2015 at 3:54 am

    I beg to differ. I think they're great keyboards. They're quick and QUIET versus most of the generic PC keyboards we've been forced to use for decades. But some people can't get used to the Apple keyboards for whatever reason. And I've never had a Bluetooth issue with the latest versions.

    But thank God Apple changed the latest keyboard to a two battery model. The previous models used 3 batteries which drove me nuts. You'd be shocked how often you end up with only 2 or just 1 battery in the kitchen drawer! More often than you would think believe it or not. :-)

    • Dann Albright
      August 29, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      I have also found Apple keyboards to be really quiet, which was great as a graduate student. The switch from three- to two-battery was a really good move on Apple's part. Odd numbers of batteries just suck. :-)

      • Mihir Patkar
        August 30, 2015 at 5:43 am

        Hmmm my experience with Apple keyboards has been the opposite in terms of how quiet they are. Of course, compared to mechanical keyboards, they are much quieter. But compared to other chiclet keyboards, not so much. I find Dell and Lenovo (not ThinkPad) keyboards to be far more silent.

        • Dann Albright
          August 31, 2015 at 12:57 pm

          Ah, that could be true; most of my experience with non-Apple keyboards is with mechanical ones. I've never thought of the Apple keyboards as loud, but if the Lenovo and Dell ones are more quiet, that's awesome. After working in a lot of libraries during my post-grad studies, I can certainly appreciate the need for a very quiet keyboard. I usually listen to music throughout the day, and that covers up a good portion of the noise of my Apple keyboard, so I haven't found it to be irritating.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 31, 2015 at 1:18 pm

          I think my response came out accusatory when I didn't mean it to, sorry about that. I meant that Apple keyboards are good at being silent, but there are others which are far more silent :) I think it depends on what you are used to. If someone who uses a mechanical keyboard uses an Apple keyboard, they'll be super impressed by the low amount of noise. Whereas someone who uses an Apple Keyboard ends up using one of the Dells, they might be even more impressed. I don't really know :)

        • Dann Albright
          September 2, 2015 at 9:39 pm

          Well now I have to go try a Dell. :-) I've been using the keyboard on my MacBook for a long time and my Apple keyboard for a few months. The only other keyboards I've used in the past few years are ones in university libraries, and those have a strange tendency to be super loud.

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 3, 2015 at 7:11 am

          Hahaha now I'm scared that I've talked up Dell too much :D

  24. Anonymous
    August 27, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Seriously, ditch the stupid things. They're poor keyboards for people who actually need to, you know, type. They have limited key travel, idiosyncratic layouts and missing keys.

    I bring a keyboard and trackball with me when I have to do work on a Mac.

    • Dann Albright
      August 29, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      I haven't had any trouble with mine at all; I've used a couple different models and they've been fine (except for the weird USB extender issue). My wife has used one for a long time and loves it, too. It's possible that I'm missing something, but it seems like you're just stating a preference for keyboards with longer key travel and a layout that you like. Not an actual reason that they're worse than another keyboard.

      • Anonymous
        August 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

        Strange layouts and missing keys for no good reason are extremely problematic for people who can actually type. Short key travel means accidental key presses, another problem for typists, but also one for gamers. These are misfeatures even before discussing issues of battery life and poor wireless connectivity.

        • Dann Albright
          September 2, 2015 at 9:38 pm

          Which keys are missing? I do a ton of typing (I'd go so far as to say I can "actually type"), and I've never had a problem with not having a key for something I needed. I suppose the layout could be weird if you're coming from a PC keyboard, but I haven't noticed anything super out of the ordinary, either . . . which layout differences are you referring to?